Blu Tuesday: Green Room and More

Every Tuesday, I review the newest Blu-ray releases and let you know whether they’re worth buying, renting or skipping, along with a breakdown of the included extras. If you see something you like, click on the cover art to purchase the Blu-ray from Amazon, and be sure to share each week’s column on social media with your friends.

“Green Room”

WHAT: Down-on-their-luck punk band The Ain’t Rights accept a gig playing at a skinhead hangout on the outskirts of Portland. But when guitar player Pat (Anton Yelchin) accidentally witnesses a murder backstage, the band is thrust into a fight for survival against the club’s ruthless owner (Patrick Stewart) and his gang of backwoods neo-Nazis.

WHY: If Jeremy Saulnier’s slow-burning sophomore effort “Blue Ruin” announced him as a filmmaker to watch, then “Green Room” confirms that he’s the real deal. A brilliantly taut and grisly horror-thriller that defies genre conventions at every turn, “Green Room” is one of the most intense moviegoing experiences in recent years. There’s hardly a single wasted frame in this tightly-paced siege film, turning the screw on its characters (and the audience itself) with some nail-biting tension that doesn’t let up. The violence is gory but never gratuitous, while the lived-in performances – particularly Anton Yelchin’s frightened musician and Patrick Stewart’s surprisingly calm and rational white supremacist – lend an unsettling authenticity to the proceedings. The movie is at its best when the band is trapped inside the titular room, and although the suspense is slightly deflated once the action spills out into the rest of the building, becoming a more visceral affair where duct tape and a box cutter are the primary tools for survival, “Green Room” maintains its vice-like grip on the audience.

EXTRAS: There’s an audio commentary by writer/director Jeremy Saulnier and a making-of featurette.

FINAL VERDICT: RENT

“Everybody Wants Some!!”

WHAT: In the summer of 1980, freshman pitcher Jake (Blake Jenner) moves into the off-campus housing assigned to his southeast Texas college baseball team and bonds with his rowdy teammates over the course of one party-filled weekend before classes begin.

WHY: Nobody makes “slice of life” movies quite like Richard Linklater. From his directorial debut “Slacker,” to the 1993 cult classic “Dazed and Confused,” to the Oscar-nominated “Boyhood,” Linklater thrives at creating films that you experience rather than simply watch. His latest movie is no different, a spiritual companion piece to “Dazed and Confused” that features the same loose narrative structure. Thankfully, “Everybody Wants Some!!” is so entertaining that the dearth of plot and character development goes largely unnoticed. It’s like hanging out with a bunch of your closest friends for two hours, and while that could have been a disaster with the wrong actors, Linklater’s mostly unknown cast has such amazing chemistry that it all seems effortless. Everyone plays their part, but Glen Powell and Wyatt Russell are the clear standouts, while Zoey Deutch brings a welcome female perspective to an otherwise male-dominated film. Though the forced philosophical discussions are classic Linklater in the worst way, “Everybody Wants Some!!” is a fun and lighthearted throwback to the early 1980s that perfectly captures small-town college life through the director’s nostalgia-tinted glasses.

EXTRAS: The Blu-ray release includes a large collection of deleted scenes and outtakes, a trio of behind-the-scenes featurettes and some audition footage.

FINAL VERDICT: RENT

“The Divergent Series: Allegiant”

WHAT: When Factionless leader Evelyn (Naomi Watts) assumes control of Chicago following Jeanine’s death, Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) escape with a group of rebels over the city wall, where they discover a technologically advanced community run by the enigmatic David (Jeff Daniels). With the future of humanity at stake, Tris must decide who to trust in order to survive the impending war.

WHY: The “Divergent” series has always had its problems, but what started out as a mildly promising dystopian story has gradually devolved into a mess of bad writing and shoddy visual effects. “Allegiant” is the worst installment yet, a boring and ill-conceived attempt to expand the universe that’s ultimately just more of the same. Though it’s good to see Tris and Co. finally make it over the wall after being teased for two straight movies, nothing interesting comes from it. In fact, most of what happens over the course of the film’s two-hour runtime is so inconsequential that the characters end up exactly where they started. More troubling is the fact that it’s basically just a ripoff of “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials,” minus the exciting action. The actors themselves don’t even seem interested anymore, and can you blame them? Shailene Woodley’s Tris is still making the same mistakes, while Miles Teller continues to be wasted in a clichéd villain role. At least they’re getting a nice paycheck; audiences are expected to actually pay for this garbage.

EXTRAS: In addition to an audio commentary by producers Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher, there’s a series of featurettes on adapting the novel, the cast and characters, visual effects, filming a key action sequence and more.

FINAL VERDICT: SKIP

  

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